The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), October 24
The Pharisees repeatedly played “gotcha” with sinners as they judged and condemned them. They loved nothing better than to criticize, fault-find and judge others. And they were good at it. Perhaps, like drug addicts, they experienced withdrawal when they weren’t out and about catching people breaking the traditions of their forefathers.
Criticizing others and fault-finding becomes habit forming. It is what Pharisees live for.
They hated Jesus for His ministry and for not affirming their “search-and-judge” ministry. Jesus didn’t come to “judge the world, but to save it.” His was, and is, a “search-and-rescue” mission.
Jesus’ ministry to the demon-possessed, blind, lepers, and (heaven forbid) prostitutes embarrassed the Pharisees. Jesus came to deliver people from darkness, while the Pharisees reinforced their captivity to darkness by their condemnation and rejection. Their ministry was tame, civilized, and domesticated, while Jesus’ was unpredictable, wild, and extreme.
Legalists search out and judge sinners, while those belonging to Christ search for and rescue sinners. The answers to a number of questions reveal whether people are involved in a “search-and-judge” or “search-and-rescue” ministry:
When was the last time you engaged in a meaningful or redemptive conversation with a multi-pierced, multi-tattooed, hair-dyed, and attitude-wearing young person?
- Do people know you “for the distance you keep” from people unlike yourself?
- Do you home school your kids, avoid watching TV or withdraw from some other “convictional” activity because the Lord told you to, or because it is the spiritually-elitist and Christian-cultural thing to do in your church or denomination?
- Do you have any lost friends with whom you interact?
- Do you know your lost neighbors? Have they been in your home? Have you been in theirs?
- Does your life (kid’s sport teams, exercise program, hobbies, etc) revolve totally around your church friends?
- Do you avoid secular events (4th of the July, etc) because people may drink, smoke, or use inappropriate language?
Do “sinners” feel loved or judged by you?
- Do you or your children have friends who are from another culture?
- Is your church filled with people just like you (socially, financially, worship preferences, etc.), or is your congregation diverse?
Are you a card-toting Pharisee or a sleeves-rolled-up search-and-rescue team member?
It is difficult, but not impossible, to leave the comfortable membership of a group of Pharisees. Just as those who believed in Jesus would not confess their belief publicly, for fear of being kicked out of the temple by the Pharisees, so “search-and-rescue” Christ followers will be rejected by modern Pharisees. Loving the “praise of men more than the praise of God” keeps the ranks of the Pharisees full with man-pleasers (Jn. 12:43).
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Jn. 12:37-50; Mk. 11:12-33; Mt. 21:12-27; Lk. 19:45-48; 20:1-8):
What does Jesus teach about prayer from the death of the fig tree?
The Temple’s court of the Gentiles was filled with tradesmen selling animals for sacrifice. What happened after their removal? What does this reveal about consumerism in the place of worship?